|Date||R||Home vs Away||-|
|03/20 23:07||-||FLA Panthers vs DET Red Wings||View|
|03/20 23:07||-||OTT Senators vs PIT Penguins||View|
|03/21 01:07||-||CHI Blackhawks vs COL Avalanche||View|
|03/21 01:37||-||SJ Sharks vs EDM Oilers||View|
|03/21 02:37||-||CAL Flames vs LA Kings||View|
|03/21 23:00||-||NY Rangers vs CAR Hurricanes||View|
|03/21 23:00||-||WAS Capitals vs CLB Blue Jackets||View|
|03/21 23:00||-||PHI Flyers vs FLA Panthers||View|
|03/21 23:00||-||BOS Bruins vs OTT Senators||View|
|03/21 23:00||-||BUF Sabres vs NAS Predators||View|
|03/21 23:00||-||MON Canadiens vs TB Lightning||View|
|03/21 23:00||-||NJ Devils vs MIN Wild||View|
|Date||R||Home vs Away||-|
|03/20 00:00||-|| VAN Canucks vs ANA Ducks ||2-1|
|03/19 23:00||-|| NJ Devils vs TB Lightning ||5-2|
|03/19 23:00||-|| NAS Predators vs NY Rangers ||0-7|
|03/19 23:00||-|| WIN Jets vs STL Blues ||0-3|
|03/19 20:00||-|| CLB Blue Jackets vs VGS Golden Knights ||2-7|
|03/19 18:00||-|| WAS Capitals vs MIN Wild ||3-5|
|03/19 17:00||-|| BOS Bruins vs BUF Sabres ||7-0|
|03/19 02:30||-|| CHI Blackhawks vs ARZ Coyotes ||2-4|
|03/19 02:30||-|| NY Islanders vs SJ Sharks ||4-1|
|03/19 02:00||-|| DAL Stars vs CAL Flames ||6-5|
|03/19 02:00||-|| VAN Canucks vs LA Kings ||3-2|
|03/19 00:00||-|| PIT Penguins vs NY Rangers ||0-6|
The National Hockey League (NHL; French: Ligue nationale de hockey—LNH, French pronunciation: [liɡ nasjɔnal də ɔkɛ]) is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams—25 in the United States and 7 in Canada. It is considered to be the top ranked professional ice hockey league in the world, and is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup, the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season. The NHL is the fifth-wealthiest professional sport league in the world by revenue, after the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the English Premier League (EPL).
The National Hockey League was organized at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal on November 26, 1917, after the suspension of operations of its predecessor organization, the National Hockey Association (NHA), which had been founded in 1909 in Renfrew, Ontario. The NHL immediately took the NHA's place as one of the leagues that contested for the Stanley Cup in an annual interleague competition before a series of league mergers and foldings left the NHL as the only league left competing for the Stanley Cup in 1926.
At its inception, the NHL had four teams, all in Canada, thus the adjective "National" in the league's name. The league expanded to the United States in 1924, when the Boston Bruins joined, and has since consisted of both American and Canadian teams. From 1942 to 1967, the league had only six teams, collectively (if not contemporaneously) nicknamed the "Original Six". The NHL added six new teams to double its size at the 1967 NHL expansion. The league then increased to 18 teams by 1974 and 21 teams in 1979. Between 1991 and 2000 the NHL further expanded to 30 teams. It added its 31st and 32nd teams in 2017 and 2021, respectively.
The league's headquarters have been in Midtown Manhattan since 1989, when the head office moved from Montreal. There have been four league-wide work stoppages in NHL history, all occurring after 1992. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) considers the Stanley Cup to be one of the "most important championships available to the sport". The NHL draws many highly skilled players from all over the world and currently has players from approximately 20 countries. Canadians have historically constituted the majority of the players in the league, with an increasing percentage of American and European players in recent seasons.
The Montreal Canadiens have the most NHL titles with 24 (including 23 Stanley Cup championships since entering the league). Entering the 2022–23 season, the Colorado Avalanche, who defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4–2 in the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals, are the reigning league champions.
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The National Hockey League was established in 1917 as the successor to the National Hockey Association (NHA). Founded in 1909, the NHA began play in 1910 with seven teams in Ontario and Quebec, and was one of the first major leagues in professional ice hockey. However, by its eighth season, a series of disputes with Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone led team owners of the Montreal Canadiens, the Montreal Wanderers, the Ottawa Senators, and the Quebec Bulldogs to hold a meeting to discuss the league's future. Realizing the NHA constitution left them unable to force Livingstone out, the four teams voted instead to suspend the NHA, and on November 26, 1917, formed the National Hockey League. Frank Calder was chosen as the NHL's first president, serving until his death in 1943.
The Bulldogs were unable to play in the NHL, and the remaining owners founded the Toronto Arenas to compete with the Canadiens, Wanderers and Senators. The first games were played on December 19, 1917. The Montreal Arena burned down in January 1918, causing the Wanderers to cease operations, and the NHL continued on as a three-team league until the Bulldogs returned in 1919.
The NHL replaced the NHA as one of the leagues that competed for the Stanley Cup, an interleague competition at the time. Toronto won the first NHL title, and then defeated the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) for the 1918 Stanley Cup. The Canadiens won the league title in 1919, but the series in the Stanley Cup Finals against the PCHA's Seattle Metropolitans was abandoned due to the Spanish Flu epidemic. In 1924, Montreal won their first Stanley Cup as a member of the NHL. The Hamilton Tigers won the regular season title in 1924–25, but refused to play in the championship series unless they were given a C$200 bonus. The league refused and declared the Canadiens the league champion after they defeated the Toronto St. Patricks (formerly the Arenas) in the semi-final. Montreal was then defeated by the Victoria Cougars of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) in 1925. It was the last time a non-NHL team won the trophy, as the Stanley Cup became the de facto NHL championship in 1926, after the WCHL ceased operation.
The National Hockey League embarked on a rapid expansion in the 1920s, adding the Montreal Maroons and the Boston Bruins in 1924, the latter being the first American team to join the league. The New York Americans began play in 1925 after purchasing the assets of the Hamilton Tigers, and were joined by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The New York Rangers were added in 1926, and the Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Cougars (later the Red Wings) were added after the league purchased the assets of the defunct WCHL. A group purchased the Toronto St. Patricks in 1927 and immediately renamed them the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In 1934, the first NHL All-Star Game was held to benefit Ace Bailey, whose career ended on a vicious hit by Eddie Shore. The second was held in 1937 in support of Howie Morenz's family when he died of a coronary embolism after breaking his leg during a game.
The Great Depression and the onset of World War II took a toll on the league. The Pirates became the Philadelphia Quakers in 1930, then folded a year later. The Senators likewise became the St. Louis Eagles in 1934, also lasting only a year. The Maroons did not survive, as they suspended operations in 1938. The Americans were suspended in 1942 due to a lack of available players, and were never reactivated.
For the 1942–43 season, the NHL was reduced to six teams: the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Black Hawks, the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs, a line-up, often referred to as the "Original Six", which would remain constant for the next 25 years. In 1947, the league reached an agreement with the Stanley Cup trustees to take full control of the trophy, allowing it to reject challenges from other leagues that wished to play for the Cup.
In 1945, Maurice "Rocket" Richard became the first player to score 50 goals, doing so in a 50-game season. Richard later led the Canadiens to five consecutive titles between 1956 and 1960, a record no team has matched.
On March 13, 1948, Asian Canadian Larry Kwong became the first non-white player in the NHL and broke the league's colour barrier by playing for the New York Rangers. On January 18, 1958, Willie O'Ree became the first Black player in the league's history when he made his debut with the Boston Bruins.
By the mid-1960s, the desire for a network television contract in the United States, coupled with concerns that the Western Hockey League was planning to declare itself a major league and challenge for the Stanley Cup, spurred the NHL to undertake its first expansion since the 1920s. The league doubled in size to 12 teams for the 1967–68 season, adding the Los Angeles Kings, the Minnesota North Stars, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the California Seals, and the St. Louis Blues. However, Canadian fans were outraged that all six teams were placed in the United States, so the league responded by adding the Vancouver Canucks in 1970, along with the Buffalo Sabres, both located on the Canada–United States border. Two years later, the emergence of the newly founded World Hockey Association (WHA) led the league to add the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Flames to keep the rival league out of those markets. In 1974, the Washington Capitals and the Kansas City Scouts were added, bringing the league up to 18 teams.
The NHL fought the WHA for players, losing 67 to the new league in its first season of 1972–73, including the Chicago Black Hawks' Bobby Hull, who signed a ten-year, $2.5 million contract with the Winnipeg Jets, then the largest in hockey history. The league attempted to block the defections in court, but a counter-suit by the WHA led to a Philadelphia judge ruling the NHL's reserve clause to be illegal, thus eliminating the elder league's monopoly over the players. Seven years of battling for players and markets financially damaged both leagues, leading to a merger agreement in 1979 that saw the WHA cease operations while the NHL absorbed the Winnipeg Jets, the Edmonton Oilers, the Hartford Whalers, and the Quebec Nordiques. The owners initially rejected this merger agreement by one vote, but a massive boycott of Molson Brewery products by Canadian fans resulted in the Montreal Canadiens, which was owned by Molson, reversing its position, along with the Vancouver Canucks. In a second vote, the plan was approved.
Wayne Gretzky played one season in the WHA for the Indianapolis Racers (eight games) and the Edmonton Oilers (72 games) before the Oilers joined the NHL for the 1979–80 season. Gretzky went on to lead the Oilers to win four Stanley Cup championships in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988, and set single season records for goals (92 in 1981–82), assists (163 in 1985–86) and points (215 in 1985–86), as well as career records for goals (894), assists (1,963) and points (2,857). In 1988, he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in a deal that dramatically improved the league's popularity in the United States. By the turn of the century, nine more teams were added to the NHL: the San Jose Sharks, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Ottawa Senators, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Florida Panthers, the Nashville Predators, the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets), and in 2000, the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets. On July 21, 2015, the NHL confirmed that it had received applications from prospective ownership groups in Quebec City and Las Vegas for possible expansion teams, and on June 22, 2016, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the addition of a 31st franchise, based in Las Vegas and later named the Vegas Golden Knights, into the NHL for the 2017–18 season. On December 4, 2018, the league announced a 32nd franchise in Seattle, later named the Seattle Kraken who joined in the 2021–22 season.
There have been four league-wide work stoppages in NHL history, all occurring after 1992. The first was a strike by the National Hockey League Players' Association in April 1992, which lasted for ten days but was settled quickly with all affected games rescheduled.
A lockout at the start of the 1994–95 season forced the league to reduce the schedule from 84 games to 48, with the teams playing only intra-conference games during the reduced season. The resulting collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was set for renegotiation in 1998, and extended to September 15, 2004.
With no new agreement in hand when the contract expired, league commissioner Gary Bettman announced a lockout of the players union and closed the league's head office for the 2004–05 season. The league vowed to install what it dubbed "cost certainty" for its teams, but the Players' Association countered that the move was little more than a euphemism for a salary cap, which the union initially said it would not accept. The lockout shut down the league for 310 days, making it the longest in sports history, as the NHL became the first professional sports league to lose an entire season. A new collective bargaining agreement was eventually ratified in July 2005, including a salary cap. The agreement had a term of six years with an option of extending the collective bargaining agreement for an additional year at the end of the term, allowing the league to resume as of the 2005–06 season.
On October 5, 2005, the first post-lockout season took to the ice with all 30 teams. The NHL received record attendance in the 2005–06 season, with an average of 16,955 per game. However, its television audience was slower to rebound due to American cable broadcaster ESPN's decision to drop its NHL coverage. The league's post-lockout agreement with NBC gave the league a share of revenue from each game's advertising sales, rather than the usual lump sum paid up front for game rights. The league's annual revenues were estimated at $2.27 billion.
On September 16, 2012, the labour pact expired, and the league again locked out the players. The owners proposed reducing the players' share of hockey-related revenues from 57 percent to 47 percent. All games were cancelled up to January 14, 2013, along with the 2013 NHL Winter Classic and the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend. On January 6, a tentative agreement was reached on a ten-year deal. On January 12, the league and the Players' Association signed a memorandum of understanding on the new deal, allowing teams to begin their training camps the next day, with a shortened 48-game season schedule that began on January 19.
Player safety has become a major issue in the NHL, with concussions resulting from a hard hit to the head being the primary concern. Recent studies have shown how the consequences of concussions can last beyond player retirement. This has significant effects on the league, as elite players have suffered from the aftereffects of concussions (such as Sidney Crosby being sidelined for approximately ten and a half months), which adversely affects the league's marketability. In December 2009, Brendan Shanahan was hired to replace Colin Campbell, and was given the role of senior vice-president of player safety. Shanahan began to hand out suspensions on high-profile perpetrators responsible for dangerous hits, such as Raffi Torres receiving 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa.
To aid with removing high-speed collisions on icing, which had led to several potential career-ending injuries such as Hurricanes' defenceman Joni Pitkanen, the league mandated hybrid no-touch icing for the 2013–14 NHL season.
On November 25, 2013, ten former NHL players (Gary Leeman, Rick Vaive, Brad Aitken, Darren Banks, Curt Bennett, Richie Dunn, Warren Holmes, Bob Manno, Blair Stewart, and Morris Titanic) sued the league for negligence in protecting players from concussions. The suit came three months after the National Football League agreed to pay former players US$765 million due to a player safety lawsuit.
From 1952 to 1955, Marguerite Norris served as president of the Detroit Red Wings, being the first female NHL executive and the first woman to have her name engraved on the Stanley Cup. In 1992, Manon Rhéaume became the first woman to play a game in any of the major professional North American sports leagues, as a goaltender for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a pre-season game against the St. Louis Blues, stopping seven of nine shots. In 2016, Dawn Braid was hired as the Arizona Coyotes' skating coach, making her the first female full-time coach in the NHL. The first female referees in the NHL were hired in a test-run during the league's preseason prospect tournaments in September 2019.
In 2016, the NHL hosted the 2016 Outdoor Women's Classic, an exhibition game between the Boston Pride of the National Women's Hockey League and the Les Canadiennes of the Canadian Women's Hockey League, as part of the 2016 NHL Winter Classic weekend festivities. In 2019, the NHL invited four women from the US and Canadian Olympic teams to demonstrate the events in All-Star skills competition before the All-Star Game. Due to Nathan MacKinnon choosing not to participate following a bruised ankle, Team USA's Kendall Coyne Schofield competed in the Fastest Skater competition in his place becoming the first woman to officially compete in the NHL's All-Star festivities. The attention led the NHL to include a 3-on-3 women's game before the 2020 All-Star Game. Rheaume returned to perform as a goaltender for the 2022 NHL All-Star Game's Breakaway Challenge.